Policy on Peer Observation of Teaching

The policy has been reviewed in line with the revised QAA Quality Code: Learning and Teaching published in November 2018.

Background

The Peer Observation process is an established, mandatory practice here at Swansea University with localised approaches at college level. This entails adapting the process to suit contexts with the implementation of appropriate record systems.

In order to inform discussions of personal and professional development, staff are encouraged to reflect upon their Peer Observation (s) during PDR meetings. This will be recorded via the online PDR form.

During the current review of the Peer observation process, the following areas will be addressed:

The updated policy has been informed by practice at the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, Reading and Winchester. Cardiff University’s how to guide on developing teaching through peer review provided a useful starting point for developing a ‘Quick Guide’ infographic.

Purpose

Peer observation of teaching is an enabling process, for staff with teaching responsibilities to reflect on and improve their teaching practice. This policy and infographic should therefore be used by all teaching staff as they work together to increase the effectiveness of their teaching through observation, discussion and reflection. This process has the potential for sharing best practice across disciplines thus improving the quality of the student learning experience. It can also be a catalyst for creating communities of practice.

Observers, and those who are being observed, are encouraged to use the peer observation process to identify and share good practice. This can be used to demonstrate performance for progression and professional recognition.

Operation

Peer observation is supportive and progressive rather than judgmental, where the area of focus is decided by the teacher. This is an essential aspect of peer observation which helps to develop r

Peer observation is supportive and progressive rather than judgemental, where the area of focus is decided by the teacher. This is an essential aspect of peer observation which helps to develop reflection and innovation for both the observer and the observed.

  1. Peer observation is mandatory and must take place at least once during each academic year for all staff delivering teaching although staff are encouraged to undertake peer observation more frequently.
  2. Managers should confirm at PDR whether peer observation has taken place, and staff are encouraged to share their observation (s) with their line manager to demonstrate reflection on and enhancement of their teaching practice.
  3. Observers should be University staff members from a cognate or own discipline and change each year. In order to ensure fair and effective practice, the process should not be reciprocal, Observation from teachers external to the university (g. from other institutions or from practice) should be regarded as additional to the internal process.
  4. The University’s approved peer observation form must be used.

The process is intended to be two-way with active contribution from observer and observed. The observer is expected to remain present for the whole session and to provide detailed comments. Peer observation can cover the full range of teaching activities including lectures, seminars, field trips, and practical classes.

Observers should consider:

  • The design of teaching materials e.g. PowerPoint presentation layout, supporting material etc.
  • Learning outcomes and learning activities/ tasks e.gopportunities for flipped learning.
  • Assessment tasks, including provision of materials, exemplars, assignment guidance and marking schemes.
  • Online & blended learning resources – see infographic.
  • Provision of opportunities for all students, regardless of identity and background.

Confidentiality

The process should be confidential and any information shared between the observer and the observed remains private, unless the member of staff being observed chooses to share the outcome. Staff who have been observed are encouraged to share observations with their line manager and disseminate good practice, where appropriate.

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